The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) is again warning parents and caregivers about the risks of drop-side cribs. The warning follows 11 recalls in the past 5 years of more than 7 million drop-side cribs associated with suffocation and strangulation hazards.
After reviewing incident reports from the past 9 years, the CPSC reported 32 infant and toddler deaths due to suffocation and strangulation as well as hundreds of additional incidents that were caused by or related to detached drop-sides in cribs from a variety of manufacturers. An additional 14 infant fatalities due to entrapment in cribs may have been related to a drop-side, although the information obtained by the CPSC was insufficient to determine this conclusively.
Of the 32 deaths, some occurred after the purchaser tried to repair a detached drop-side; others occurred in cribs where the drop-side detachment wasn't noticed; and others were linked to incorrect installation of the drop-side or drop-side hardware, often due to incorrect or confusing directions.
According to the CPSC, drop-side cribs tend to be less structurally sound than fixed-side cribs, especially with older cribs. The CPSC identified three main problems associated with older drop-side cribs:
- The longer a crib is in use, the greater the wear and tear on joints and hardware, allowing plastic parts to flex and break and screws to loosen and fall out.
- Repeated assembly and disassembly increases the likelihood of loss or damage to crib parts.
- Over time, glue can become brittle and wood can warp and shrink, leading to joint and slat failure.
The failure of drop-side hardware can pose entrapment and suffocation hazards for a baby who rolls or moves into the space created by the partially detached drop-side. And, babies can potentially strangle in the "V" shape formed by a drop-side that has detached from an upper corner of the crib.
The CPSC says that a new federally mandated standard will begin this year that incorporates the new voluntary industry standard banning drop-side cribs from the U.S. market. Many manufacturers have already stopped selling drop-side cribs or will do so beginning June 1, 2010.
The latest recall, issued the day before the CPSC's warning, is for 170,00 C&T International/Sorelle drop-side cribs due to the risk of strangulation and suffocation.
What This Means to You
Check the CPSC's list of recalled cribs regularly to be sure that yours isn't on it. Parents and caregivers should check the safety of their baby's crib often; the CPSC's website includes information about what to look for. Tighten hardware occasionally to ensure the sturdiness of the crib. Do not use any crib with missing, loose, or broken parts. Do not attempt to repair any side of the crib; babies have died in cribs with homemade repairs.
The CPSC also suggests that babies younger than 6 months old who can't push up to their hands and knees sleep in a bassinet or a play yard. And finally, do not place additional bedding like pillows or comforters in your child's sleeping environment, as more babies die annually from suffocation in plush sleeping spaces than from defective cribs.
For More Information
- CPSC: For images of the suffocation and entrapment hazards posed by drop-side detachment
- CPSC: For C&T International/Sorelle recall information
- For C&T/Sorelle crib recall: Call (877) 791-9398, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or go to the firm's website
(Please note: By clicking on any of these links, you will be leaving the KidsHealth site.)
Warning date: May 7, 2010
Recall date: May 6, 2010